USask researcher joins team studying plants and microbes for oilsand wastewater clean-up

A file photo of the oilsands and a housing camp. CP PHOTO/Larry MacDougal

A University of Saskatchewan researcher is joining a team studying ways for plants and their related microbes to clean up wastewater from oilsands operations.

Assistant professor at the school of environment and sustainability, Lori Bradford, will be looking at the social sciences aspect of the research to explore legal, social, and economic gaps in clean-up knowledge.

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Another team is looking into natural ways to clean up large volumes of wastewater, by building a wetland treatment system using vegetation, soils, and organisms to filter and process suspended solids and trace metals.

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“Right now the regulations say the oilsand waters can’t be returned to the environment,” said Bradford. “There is more than one billion cubic metres of water, of which  80 per cent is recycled and used again, which has to be stored on-site.”

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Bradford said decisions will have to be made about the remaining water — if and how it gets put back into the environment.

The green technology required may be more environmentally friendly compared with other technology or chemical treatments.

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